Speed-dating's great as you're all in the same boat. Everyone knows that everyone else is single and looking for lurve. The pressure's certainly on to find an opening line that works.
You can play it straight or make a remark about the event itself. Here are some examples:
✓ (Playing it straight.) 'Hi, I'm Elizabeth, pleased to meet you' followed by a friendly handshake. This works because standard conversation code is followed and everybody knows where they are and how to respond. (Chapter 8 has more on conversation code.)
✓ (Making a remark about the event.) You can have a lot of fun with this one:
'I'm a newcomer to speed-dating, so be gentle with me.'
'Don't you feel like you're in Groundhog Day, sitting down to a new face and introducing yourself every few minutes?'
'Making conversation at these things is a bit like having short-term memory loss. I'm never sure if I'm repeating myself in the same conversation!' (Don't use this line on the first date of the evening, because they'll think you're a crazy person.)
These lines work because you're commenting on a shared experience and making it easy for the other person to respond.
Which one would you be?
One cheesy speed-dater opened every conversation with exactly the same line: 'So, if you were a character from Friends, which one would you be and why?', delivered with a raised eyebrow and a leer. You could see the women wince every time he uttered it. At half time, word about Mr Creepy spread in the Ladies and those that were still to meet him armed themselves in preparation.
'Monica, because I'd have no qualms about telling you to get lost,' one woman blurted out before he'd even got a chance to deliver his opening gambit. Then she stood up and swanned off to the bar.
Throughout the evening, people who went for the obvious but simple opening lines faired far better than the ones trying to be clever. Aim for something simple, and within your delivery capabilities, to get the easiest conversations going.
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